Speaker My name is Gabriela Gonzalez, I'm an associate professor of history at the University of Texas at San Antonio. I became interested in the story of Habibti that many years ago when I learned that she had done excellent work in the city of Laredo, Texas, which happens to be my hometown. And for many years, I thought that Laredo, Texas, was not that historically interesting, not that historically significant. And like many young people, I just wanted to go to college at age 18. But once in college, in particular in graduate school, I became aware of Mexican-American human and civil rights efforts throughout the state of Texas and was shocked to learn that Laredo had played a very important role in that 20th century process. And so I was hooked and I actually switched majors from business. I got my degree in business, but I went back to school to study history because I wanted to tap into that Mexican-American and women's history. And so I decided to pursue my masters at UTSA in history and went on to earn my PhD at Stanford University specializing in U.S. Mexico, borderlands history and women's history.

Speaker What a great story. Thank you. What challenges have you faced in your own career as a woman?

Speaker I would say that one of the biggest challenges for me as a woman of color has been understanding that history and how difficult it was for my ancestors. And understanding it and being able to process all of that on a psychological level, I remember, for example, when I was in graduate school, I read Jackie Jones, Labor of love, labor of Sorrow about the African-American women's experience in the United States of America, covering a vast period from slavery until the 1980s when it was published. And I cried, I cried every night I read that book. I could not believe that all of that was part of American history. And I went and I spoke with several people, including my adviser, a wonderful professor, Professor Dr. Dr. Linda Schott, who mentored me. And I told her, Dr. Scott, I'm going to quit this program. I apologize. Thank you for everything you've done. But I cannot be reading this every night. It is very difficult for me to process all of this information and then go out into the world and be myself. And she told me that she had felt the same when she started studying women's history. But that because I had all of these privileges. Which shocked me because I have a working class background, but she told me that just being in school, just being a higher ed student sets me apart from a great portion of the world's population. And she said, you have the ability, the talent, you've earned scholarships. You are here. Before you leave, I want you to think about all of those things. Think about what you'd be giving up and the great opportunities that other people do not share, other people from similar backgrounds to yours.

Speaker And once you've done that thought process, then come back and if you still want to leave, you have my blessing essentially. Well, I did all that and I realized that on some level I didn't have a right to do that, that I had a certain obligation.

Speaker Furthermore, she told me, you're going to be learning about Mexican-American men and women and other people in American history that have worked very hard to make this a better society. And that will give you inspiration and that will give you strength. And you can be a part of that as somebody who within the institution of the university system, within education, can try to make a difference for future generations. Oh, boy, I was sold. I said yes. Now, I don't feel like a victim anymore. Now I feel like I can be somebody who's out there making a difference in my own world.

Speaker And I haven't looked back since then. I was committed to stick through the process and all the ups and downs of the PhD program, everything. And here I am today and I'm glad I made that choice to stick around so earlier.

Speaker Readers and students, I'm sure.

Speaker So, as you know, this project's name is unladylike. Mm hmm. What does that word convey for you? Oh, my goodness. Unladylike.

Speaker Well, generally speaking, I would say that many women who form a part of the United States of America at one point in time were considered to be unladylike. If they did a set of things that, say, in 19th century America or early 20th 20th century America were considered to be beyond the bounds of true womanhood, European American women went through that process. African-American women and certainly Mexican-American women add to that the reality that for many ethnic Mexican women, they had certain strictures coming from Mexico and the Latin American world. And so both of these societies, the American society and the Hispanic world were subject to patriarchal structures. And even as both nation states became modern societies, some of those patriarchal structures continue to be in place for a while. Certain Victorian ideals of what a woman should act like, what she should look like. For example, the idea of separate spheres was quite common among European, American, middle and upper class women in that idealized world. The men were supposed to operate as the breadwinners, the primary breadwinners and as the representatives of their families in the public square, meaning that they were the ones who had access to the vote to the franchise. They were the ones that if they were willing to and capable of could run for office. Their wives and other female relatives were expected to stay at home and care for their husbands and children. Mexican-American women of the middle class also were expected to behave in that manner. And part of the definition of being a lady was, in fact, being domestic in your orientation, being passive, letting the man be the active person in history and society being pious, you know, having a connection to religion, to spirituality and being pure, being faithful to your husband. So all of those elements you would find in both the English speaking and the Spanish speaking world. Now, a lot of women in both societies could not uphold this 19th century Victorian ideals because, first of all, many women had to work if their spouses were not earning enough money to maintain the household, they had no choice but to work. Immigrant women, by definition, had to work and be a part of the breadwinning process for their families. Sometimes the children had to work. So child labor was a thing and continue to be something that Mexican American and Mexican immigrant families needed even into the 20th century, even after child labor was outlawed. Many employers look the other way and counted on the man, the woman and the children working. So that was just the reality. Furthermore, even among the more privileged women, the more economically privileged women. There were women in both the English speaking world and the Spanish speaking world who left the home and under the you might call it the guise of politicized domesticity.

Speaker Stating justifying their activities outside the home as necessary reform activity that needed to happen in a society where the politicians were not paying attention to issues that women cared about, like better sanitary conditions for the workers of the things that we do, things that we're not going to do this or the light.

Speaker The light. Oh, it was no fun here. It is so odious. And I was like, OK, it's OK, but I'm in the bathroom.

Speaker OK, so let's start at the politicized. Sure. All right.

Speaker So politicized domesticity was this notion that as wives and mothers, women had not just the right, but actually an obligation to leave their homes and to be part of the public square through voluntary associations, they would devote their time, their energy, their ideas, their organizational skills, their public speaking skills through all kinds of courses. One good example within American history would be the Women's Christian Temperance Union in the 19th century, which at one point was the largest female organization in the United States. And their number one goal was to try to eradicate alcoholism in America and the problems that they believed and on some level rightly so, were connected to alcoholism, for instance, spousal abuse, child abuse, industrial accidents at work, all kinds of social problems. So they were trying at one point basically to get rid of alcohol in American society. Another example would be the feminist movement working mightily to bring for women the right to vote the franchise to demand that of public officialdom in the United States. Well, in Mexico and along the US Mexico border, as women were concerned about women's rights also and they were in favor of the franchise covid, they've certainly was in favor of the franchise. In addition to that, women of color, both African-American and Mexican-American women, wanted to eradicate racism from their world, from the United States, from Texas. And so that occupied a lot of their energies and it took a lot of organizational skills. And certainly it justified for themselves and their families and communities their active role in various organizations.

Speaker Listen to the radio come out. It didn't look right to be so sure.

Speaker Absolutely. That's great.

Speaker It was amazing.

Speaker Thank you for. Absolutely. My pleasure. So great.

Speaker So tell me in greater detail about life, specifically for Mexican Americans at the time and and some of the racism that they were facing, the story of racism in America as it pertains to ethnic Mexican people really begins in the 19th century.

Speaker It starts out when this territory that becomes the US Southwest was actually part of Mexico during the Spanish colonial period and then going into the early Mexican Republic, which was a very brief period from about eighteen twenty one to eighteen forty six or so. Then you have the US Mexico war. So Texas specifically or death was part of that Spanish Mexican world because of economic problems and also security issues in the sense that the Spanish speaking people in this colony of their house were under constant threat from Indian raids and in conflicts with some Indian society such as the Comanches and the Apaches. So for both economic reasons and security reasons, they allowed migration into their house of Anglo Americans, including that first settlement led first by Moses Austin and then his son Stephen of Austin when Moses passed away. So, Stephen, if Austin was allowed by that, the elite to bring in Anglo American settlers, several families into this region known as the House, and this the elites, led by Jose Antonio Navarro and others, actually had to lobby within the Mexican Republic government governing entities to permit Anglo American settlement in the region because Mexico had abolished slavery. But even if Austin and company were bringing slaves because what determined their economic well-being was in fact the cotton trade. So cotton was considered king in 19th century America, similar like petroleum would become very economically important for the 20th century United States Cotton was a major product and it had global markets. And part of the reason that the Hanno elites felt that they would best be served economically if they allowed Anglo American migration was precisely because that cotton trade, they felt, would link their has to global markets and secure their future. So the elites within society felt they had common interest with Stephen of Austin and the Anglo American migrants to Texas, and that was allowed. Not all Anglo American migration was allowed. So there were some illegal, if you will, migrants into the region. Eventually, Mexico became concerned about the reality that Anglo Americans were not assimilating into the Spanish speaking world. They had not converted to Catholicism. They they had not picked up the Spanish language. And in fact, the two societies were living miles and miles apart. They were also concerned about some of the negative attitudes that Anglo American migrants into their house had about the Spanish speaking world, and specifically that that was how essentially they were transplanting some of their cultural values, belief systems, about what they considered to be non-white people. So these ideas that they had in relation to African-Americans about the inferiority from their perspective of African-Americans, they brought these ideas and sort of transplanted them and superimposed them upon the Spanish speaking inhabitants of the house. All of these things, of course, there were major problems for the officials in Mexico City. And so they start to try to limit migration and to close that border, so to speak. And that eventually is going to lead to the Texas revolution or the revolt of Texas from Mexico, which they were successful at in the eighteen thirties. They did have the assistance of some of the panels in terms of the Texas revolution, unfortunately. After the conflict, that alliance between some of the tunnels and the Anglo American rebels fell apart because among the Anglo American society it was believe that the Hannas could not be trusted. They were Mexican and they had just fought a war with Mexico. And so this idea that they were a potential threat to the future of the Young Republic of Texas and made it inspired some of their efforts to take power away from the Bahamas. So in the 19th century, in the aftermath of this revolt of Texas from Mexico, you start to see the declension or decline of the hand of power within their own homeland, political decline. Eventually, they're not going to be allowed to vote in various parts of Texas economic decline. Some of their land holdings disappeared, sometimes through legal means. They couldn't pay the taxes. They didn't understand the new American law and the system that was replacing the Spanish Mexican world. And also culturally, they were seen simply as inferior as people of color. Then you have the US Mexico war in the eighteen forties, which Mexico loses. And not only does that make it even more impossible for Mexico to regain the lost territory of their house, but now through the Mexican session, they have to give up about one half of their sovereign territory to the United States. So that's part of the spoils of war for the United States to gain the territory we now know as New Mexico, Arizona, California and parts of other states like Colorado and Wyoming. That was a huge loss. And as we know, a little bit later on, they discovered gold in California and other precious metals, minerals in this area that is now part of the American West, the American Southwest. So that's a huge loss for Mexico. But the losses also are for the people, the Spanish speaking people within these lost territories under the treaty of Al Gore signed in the aftermath of this conflict, the US Mexico war. Under that treaty, ethnic Mexican people who were living in what now is the United States were essentially promised US citizenship and the rights involved with that if they chose to stay on now American territory, their property rights were supposed to be respected and their civil rights, basically the treaty of Loopy Al was going to treat them as white people with rights. Unfortunately, the treaty was not honored. It was constantly broken in various parts of the American southwest. So they were not able to retain land and they lost those political rights that I reference that story of 19th century war, 19th century conquest, and the decline in power translates into a dire twentieth century experience, because part of that story is the anti Mexican sentiments best represented by the phrase remember the Alamo, where many Anglo Texans, when they tell that story of 19th century history, depict Mexico as an oppressor, as an overlord, that they were fighting to get rid of, often neglecting or ignoring the part about slavery, that they wanted the institution of slavery to be. They wanted to be part of the American south, a southern state, essentially. Instead, they focus on the story of Davy Crockett and all the heroes of the Alamo. And in the process, those renditions of Texas history have demonized not just Mexico, but ethnic Mexican people and Tejanos as a whole, even though there were those alliances that I referenced. Add to that in addition to that 19th century experience of difficult race relationships, you have at the turn of the century a developing eugenics movement in the United States that is part of a global, broader global movement. It's animated by social Darwinian thoughts about survival of the fittest. It is used a lot of times to justify the power of the wealthy, the power of certain groups in American society and around the world. For example, in this hierarchical system, white Anglo-Saxon Protestants WASP. Were placed at the pinnacle of that society, other Europeans emanating from southern Europe and Eastern Europe, like Italians, for example, Jewish immigrants were seen as sort of second tier immigrants and Americans. And at the very bottom of that, that pyramid, these social scientists, I call them pseudosciences because it's fake science at the very bottom, they would place all people of color, African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, brown people from other parts of the globe. And so you see really a combination of factors that difficult 19th century war and conquest experience and the 20th century eugenics movement that, in fact, is going to unfortunately lead to Adolf Hitler and his project to have a master race and exterminate people that were considered undesirables. So all of those elements are coming together to make life extremely challenging for Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants in Texas and elsewhere throughout history.

Speaker Can you describe specifically. So at the turn of the 20th century, what man, yes, what form racism take? Discrimination, segregation, signs that say no dogs or Mexicans allowed.

Speaker And and I guess the description of Jim Crow laws is as well known as history. But I think many Americans don't have never heard of the himy crow or Klan crow laws.

Speaker Sure, the anti Mexican sentiments and activity that occurred in 20th century Texas takes the form of three major elements on a political level. Many lost the right to vote. And I'll give you two very specific examples. So Texas was controlled by the Democratic Party. It was essentially a one party state and the Democratic Party was linked to the Confederacy. So that was the party that was very powerful in Texas, a party that essentially had gone to war, the American Civil War in defense of slavery and that racial dynamic now being in charge of Texas after reconstruction, after the union soldiers have left and the Republican Party has been vanquished. It was briefly in in various communities in Texas, but now the Democrats are back and they're calling themselves the redeemers. And the reason they're calling themselves a redeemers is because they see themselves as the saviors of the American South, from the damn Yankees, from the Unionists, from African-American rule, because for a brief period of time during Reconstruction, some men of color were able to get elected. They, meaning the Democratic Party and their supporters, saw that as an abomination, something that was terrible that they needed to rectify. And so they saw themselves as redeemer's. Certain elements of the progressive movement in America were actually quite racist, and part of their effort to clean up society was to get rid of any kind of power that people of color, African American, Hispanic Americans, Mexican Americans might have, might hold. In Texas, there were some political machines, particularly along the Rio Grande Valley area, but Laredo as well, and some of these Democratic Party members and progressives of the more racist strain believe that in order to clean up the political machine corruption in Texas, they needed to disenfranchise men of color. They came to associate men of color with the corruption. Interestingly, interestingly enough, many of the leaders within the political machine were Anglo Texans, but they focused on the disenfranchisement of people of color because they felt that they were easily manipulated by the machine and they were voting in blocks for whoever the political boss was telling them to vote. A similar process, by the way, had happened in in the Northeast with the Boss Tweed machine, for instance, and it was considered to be in power as a result of strong immigrant support of Southern and Eastern Europeans and their children and such. So you see this effort to clean up the political machines, often by going after immigrants and people considered to be not quite good enough to be US citizens, not having civic virtue and honesty and not being the right type of Americans or potential Americans if they were immigrants. And so in Texas, in ninety two, ninety three, the Democrats basically instituted this form of political disenfranchisement by creating something called the white primary, where only white men are allowed to select the candidates who will go on to participate in national or state level, in this case, elections. Furthermore, they instituted a poll tax charging people to vote, charging men because women cannot vote at this point, charging men a certain fee in order to exercise that voting.

Speaker Right. Of course, ethnic Mexicans, many of them were working class, as many African-Americans also were working class and could not afford these poll taxes. And so it had a negative impact on men of color. The white primary, the poll tax, were essentially designed to disenfranchise these men of color. So that's in the political realm in terms of economics, both African-Americans and Hispanic. Americans, ethnic Mexicans were often allowed only to hold the most menial of positions in society, the most dangerous jobs, the lowest paid jobs, the kinds of jobs where if there was an economic downturn, they would be the first to be fired and so on. Also, seasonal jobs. A good example of that would be agricultural work that depended on Mexican families moving from community to community, looking for opportunities to pick crops. And the whole family had to work because of the meager wages that were offered to individual cotton pickers, let's say so. On an economic level, it was very difficult to pursue any form of this notion we call the American Dream because they were at the very bottom of society. Furthermore, during economic hard times, a lot of Mexican migrants, immigrants were deported or threatened with deportation. So even their residency in the United States was rather unstable. It was very difficult for them to plan a future on a socio cultural level. We have essentially the creation of high mccrone or one growe, which is the equivalent of the Mexican-American Mexican immigrant equivalent of Jim Crow as it was applied to African-Americans. And there's a lot of similarities as African-Americans were also increasingly told, you cannot go into certain places of public accommodation and if you are allowed to go, you can only go on certain days like swimming pools, for example, or if you're allowed, you can only sit in certain sections of this theater or this restaurant. That kind of dynamic was also happening to Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants. And it didn't matter if the person was a citizen of the United States. They were Mexican Americans were lumped together with Mexican immigrants and seen as undesirable. So the signs that stated no and then the N word no Mexicans or dogs allowed started to come up and you would find them in all kinds of places, including San Antonio, Texas, but as well as El Paso, Dallas, Houston, they were everywhere. And they were very humiliating for Mexican Americans, especially if they had been here since the 19th century and they had contributed to the development of the American Southwest. And they had been a part of the process of the history of Texas. But all of that was forgotten. Regardless of how long Mexican-American families had been in the United States, they were often seen as foreigners, foreigners in their own land.

Speaker As a historian once said, what you did. Texas, officially converted to Texas was an accident.

Speaker Eighteen forty five. Interestingly enough, the United States did not want to annex Texas right away. It was a young republic for about a decade because the United States was having a hard time keeping the balance between the slave states and the non slave states. And they were concerned about a potential civil war, which, as we know, does happen in the 60s. So for a while, they even though there were some Texans that wanted to be next to the United States, American officials were sort of keeping a watchful eye on Texas. There were people within the United States that wanted another slave state as an ally against the north. But there were others that obviously, if they were in the north, were not keen on that idea of annexing Texas. And so when other European nations started looking at Texas as a potential addition to their colonial holdings, that's when the United States felt threatened enough to work on annexation. And the reason other societies, European societies were interested in in Texas was because they knew that the Young Republic was economically in trouble, even though it had it was a slave republic and it had the support of Anglo Texans and so on to be a slave republic society. Certain societies like the British world were starting to turn away from slavery during that time in the mid eighteen, eighteen forties and fifties. So the abolitionist movement was a global movement. And so not everybody was interested in doing business with the Slave Republic. They were having a hard time finding partners in Europe and sustaining themselves as a young republic proved to be more challenging for Sam Houston and other leaders. And so the the drive to become a part of Texas for them increased and again, the United States wanted to keep Texas did not wanted to fall into the hands of a European power.

Speaker You mentioned agriculture. What other fields do.

Speaker Yes, Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants participated in practically every industry that was part of the second industrial revolution in the late 19th century, early 20th century, and continued to participate in the American economy throughout the 20th century. So in addition to Agri-Business, you would find at the Mexican people in railroads, railroad construction, you would find them in the mines, copper mining, in silver and so on, and smelters working in smelters. You would find the women working in food processing light industries later on in the thirties. You find a lot of women in PyCon shelling, for instance, but even before that, you find them in the garment industry. Cigar rolling. Our examples and I must add that in addition to the American Southwest, ethnic Mexicans migrated beyond the Southwest. So, for instance, Henry Ford was quite fond of recruiting ethnic Mexican workers all the way in Detroit, Detroit, Michigan. So they were part of the automobile industry in that history there, implicated New York City, also attracted migrants from Mexico and the American Southwest and the American South in the 20th century later on is going to attract after African-Americans have their first great migration outward to the north and then their second great migration. Spanish speaking people replace them in various parts of southern industries. So they're everywhere. It's a national minority group.

Speaker Mm hmm. Can you speak specifically to lynchings and who the Texas Rangers were? Yes.

Speaker So the Texas Rangers who were actually created by Stephen of Austin, so they've been around for a long time. They were considered to be a police force meant to protect the Anglo American settlement of that period, primarily from Native American potential attacks. But as the 19th century wore on and ethnic Mexicans were increasingly seen as a threat or potential threat, the Texas Rangers were also seen as a mechanism through which I think Mexican people could be controlled. Essentially, they serve the needs of the Anglo Texan economic and political elites, and they were at the beck and call of various Texas governors in the 19th century, but into the 20th century as well. They were also, you could say, an extension, a militarized extension of the Democratic Party. They could be sent, for instance, to intimidate certain groups on a political level so that they would not vote. They could be sent to ensure that certain ranches owned by the elites would be protected later on in the early 20th century. We have the Mexican Revolution that erupts in 1910. And there's a lot of conflicts along that US Mexico border. And there's a lot of concerns that some of those battles might sort of seep in. Some of that violence might seep into into the American side. And so you see the militarization of the US Mexico border, a strong Texas Ranger presence, but also US soldiers are ordered by President Woodrow Wilson into the Borderlands region. And so it's a climate where a lot of men are carrying weapons and they have their badges. But even though they're part of law enforcement, they're protecting certain interests and certain people and excluding others from that protect the protective umbrella, so to speak. In terms of lynchings, we have an understanding that a lot of African-American men suffer. And some women suffered this horrific form of death known as lynching, hanging people from trees less known as the reality, the unfortunate reality that ethnic Mexican men were also lynched. And increasingly, scholars are excavating that history and learning the names, identities and where some of these lynchings of Mexican American and Mexican Mexican immigrant men occurred. They were lynched for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes they were lynched if they were accused of certain crimes against white people, against Anglo Texans. And the sad reality is that they did not have a due process system that applied for ethnic Mexican people.

Speaker For example, somebody would be arrested, accused of murder or robbery or some crime. They would be put in jail while awaiting trial. And then a mob of. Challenges would come in and kidnap that person, sometimes with the support of the local sheriff, sometimes against the will of the sheriff, they would take the person violently from the jail cell and as a group, as a mob, go lynch that person. In addition to lynching, some people were burned alive. Some people were dragged, you know, across town, really horrific ways of killing people, mutilating their bodies, leaving them to rot, setting them essentially their corpses as an example to the rest of the society to intimidate ethnic Mexican people so that they would not vote, that they would not complain about employer worker worker dynamics that were less than ideal, whatever the case might be, essentially to push the economic and the political and the social cultural agenda of the dominant society.

Speaker At that time, the Texas Rangers commitment, they were implicated in lynchings.

Speaker But to say, oh, that the Texas Rangers were implicated in some aspects of lynchings, but they're often referred to as most diablo's the heinous, the the Texas devils who would shoot first and ask questions later. So guns were also a favored tactic for them. In fact, I would say that that that would be how they killed most of the people that that they preyed upon. When was the US Border Patrol created it and what were very briefly, some of the immigration laws in place between the US Border Patrol was created in nineteen twenty four, and prior to that, the United States had been trying to limit the number of people coming across the US Mexico border. But it's really a conflicted story because there's two sets of interests that need to be understood. On the one hand, we have the racism and this idea that the United States of America should be a white nation. And so there are people that want to limit the number of people of color coming across that border. There's also people that want to limit the number of Jewish immigrants, Italian immigrants, Catholic immigrants coming from the border along the eastern seaboard. So there's and and also in the west, there's a strong contingent that wants Asians to be excluded from American society. So we have the Chinese Exclusion Act, for example, in eighteen eighty two. That is part of that history. And it all goes back to the notion of white supremacy that the powerful wanted the nation to be a nation for white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. On the other hand, you have economic elites that need cheap labor, they need cheap labor at first from Europe, and when that border gets shut down, for example, in nineteen twenty four, you have the National Origins Act or the immigration law of nineteen twenty four, that essentially sets quotas on how many people can come from certain European societies. This decreases the number of immigrants coming from certain southern southern Europe and Eastern Europe. And also part of that nineteen twenty four immigration law is further restricting immigration from Asia. So while this is happening, while you see these two borders being shut down, essentially American business people still need the cheap labor, so they turn to the southern border. The southern border is not impacted in the way that the other borders are by the nineteen twenty four immigration law. So there's, you might say, a loophole that allows for migrants from Mexico and Latin America to come in and to fill those positions in those railroads, those fields, those mines that are needed by American economic power holders. So there's a conflict there within American society that is still being debated today, the interest of American business members, the American economic powerful elite, versus the interests of those who believe that America should look a certain way, should be a certain way. And so that's that's the dynamic that continues to animate our immigration debates to this day.

Speaker Mm hmm. Tell me briefly about efforts to Americanize or assimilate Mexican American Mexican immigrant community at the time and specifically the role that religious institutions and.

Speaker Sure, so there were various ways in which Americanization processes took root in the United States and they applied to various groups, but specifically in terms of ethnic Mexican people within the US Southwest, in addition to schools, which, of course, played a role in Americanising school children and teaching them the English language and American norms and customs and the military as well, was an Americanization tool for the government. In addition to that, American Protestant churches, missionary societies and other organizations connected to Protestantism played a very strong role in trying to Americanize Spanish speaking people, trying to convert them from Catholicism to Methodism, for example, or making them Episcopalians or Presbyterians. So there were different denominations in the region. The Methodists were operating in Laredo, Texas, in El Paso. I'll give you an example. In Laredo, we have a holding institute that was operated by a woman from Kentucky, Manny Beholding, who was a Methodist. And she was trying very hard to instill in her pupils what she considered to be Protestant values of a strong work ethic, thrift, sobriety, a love of learning, a fear of God.

Speaker All of these elements, which were often at that time considered to be part of the civilized world, were transmitted through teachers, through religious leaders along the US Mexico border. But also they went into Mexico as well, and they tried to convert people there. It was believed that if Spanish speaking people across the American Southwest were converted to Protestantism, it would facilitate their assimilation process. It would potentially protect them from some of the violence that was visited upon them by the Texas Rangers and others. They would be seen as less threatening. So a lot of these men and women who were part of the missionary effort actually had that good intention of trying to help people adapt to life in the United States and offer them a measure of protection. Unfortunately, they brought some of the racialist thinking that a particular religion was better than another religion. A particular culture was more civilized than another culture. And so those messages of hierarchy were brought along with them.

Speaker But generally speaking, they had some successes and there were some people who converted. Certainly the other family represent an example of that. But they had actually converted the previous generation because with its leaders, the mother was herself brought up as a Protestant and her father was a Protestant missionary himself who had been mentored by an American missionary. So it was intergenerational, perfect Segway to her life.

Speaker I'm sure there's we context. We're going to know. Absolutely. Yes, yes, yes, yes.

Speaker Issues.

Speaker Oh, am I making noise? OK. You're sure about that? Yes, because I want you.

Speaker Yes, OK, so tell me very briefly and I can walk you through sequentially.

Speaker OK, so let's start with her. Where was she born and where was the family that was born in Laredo, Texas, in 1885.

Speaker She was one of eight children. She was the daughter of Nicasio and covid. That Deverill and Nicasio was a very interesting gentleman. He was self-taught. He had been born around the Corpus Christi area to a working class family, but he was really brought up by a single mother and he experienced Great Harch hardships as a person of color in Texas, late 19th century Texas, for example. At one point he worked for the King Ranch and he must have seen the ill treatment. He perhaps experienced that himself. And so that probably drove him throughout his life to try to improve the lives of ethnic Mexican people, because it is something that as a young person, as a working class young person, he himself probably experienced. The mother had been born and raised along the US Mexico border, and she came from a little bit greater privilege, you might say, as the daughter of a Protestant missionary who had been influenced by an American Methodist missionary. And so she had a lot of these ideas that are going to be transmitted later on to her children, in particular to habibti, either about the social gospel and how it was the obligation of Protestant men and women to go out into the world and to try to improve society, to try to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, the whole what would Jesus do? That sort of ethos drove their lives and was highly influential. Also, having that experience, having that background experience influenced her parents to place their children at Holding Institute in Laredo, Texas, which was a, again, a Protestant school that it was founded by Nanny Beholding.

Speaker So so her education was pious. Yeah, and you think that that motivated some of her social activism?

Speaker I believe that religion had a significant impact on her upbringing and her way of looking at the world. And it was a motivator for her in terms of why she decided essentially to give up her entire life to activism because she was active until the day she died and she died young in nineteen forty six. So it was always about how to help the less fortunate. And she helped all kinds of people who ever needed help. The whole family was driven by this desire to make the world a better place for ethnic Mexican people. They were working to improve conditions for La Raza. By La Raza, I mean both Mexican-American and Mexican immigrant people. It was part of the terminology that was common at the time. For example, in Spanish language newspapers, you would constantly see references to La Raza. How can we help La Raza? How could we Riddim La Raza? How can we save La Raza from the challenges of racism and severe poverty that so many people are experiencing?

Speaker Mm hmm.

Speaker What did she do after graduating from school?

Speaker Tell me about her teaching Sherief teaching career. And where is this?

Speaker Oh, yes. So we you that it graduated from Holding Institute in 1983 and she was certified to work as a school teacher. So she begins her teaching career at a loss of weight loss, which is very close to a few miles from Laredo, Texas. She stayed in that career briefly because she experienced all of the challenges that anybody teaching Mexican American and Mexican immigrant schoolchildren at the time would have experienced. Because of the racism, Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants were often relegated to inferior what they called Mexican schools. Literally, it was part of the apartheid world that was created through the Jim Crow high McCrone Juan Crow laws that were part of Texas history and part of the broader American Southern history. And subjected to that ethnic Mexican children had no choice but to attend these schools that basically were hovels. They were second rate in every way. The buildings were falling apart. There was no indoor plumbing. They didn't have school supplies. Sometimes they didn't have anywhere to sit. And the teachers that were there were usually the youngest, least qualified, least experienced teachers. In fact, many Anglo American school teachers who ended up teaching acting Mexican children considered it unfortunate, and it was part of paying their dues until they got the next opportunity to move along to a better position. So they did not have the best attitudes, which, of course, was detrimental to the psychology of the school children that they were there to try to help to teach covid day that quickly figured out how the system worked, how the educational system was so unfair and grew frustrated with the lack of resources and support for school teachers focused on ethnic Mexican children, she believed that she would have better luck helping La Raza elsewhere. And that's when she returned home and decided to join her father and her siblings, who were engaged in human and civil rights activism through journalism as muckraking journalists. So very much part of that progressive movement, with the muckraking journalist trying to raise awareness and consciousness about what was going on in terms of this maligned community.

Speaker So before we move into the journalism. Tell me very briefly about touching on it, about muckraking journalism and specifically the status of women in journalism.

Speaker So during this period, we know as the progressive era, we have many examples of men and women from different ethnic racial backgrounds who are engaged in what Teddy Roosevelt coined, muckraking journalism, meaning that they go out there, these journalists, and they do investigative journalism. They are in search of evidence of political corruption, economic malpractices and so on. And they are willing and courageous enough to report on it and to challenge these various structures and to present a more progressive alternative just simply through raising that awareness and critiquing it, actively critiquing it and calling for a more fair system, more democratic system. Definitely. Did that work part of that generation of muckraking journalism? Now, in addition to political corruption and perhaps abuses of certain other institutions, they took on racism. They took on white supremacy directly, which is something that, for example, many European American muckraking journalists were not tackling because either they were not aware of it or it just was not on their priority list. They were thinking about other things. They were focused on on other situations, wherever they were operating from. But in Texas, white supremacy was something that they had to live with every day. And even though they were more privileged, they had a greater level of education. You could even call the middle class the way they lived, the way they dress, the fact that they had connections with some of the movers and shakers in the radio society and negatory that himself, for example, was. I believe a 30 third degree free mason, and he was a leader, justice of the peace at one point he had been city marshal in Laredo. So, yes, they were highly privileged. And still they knew that if they were to travel outside of Laredo, there was a good chance that because of their brown skin, they would be racialized, mistreated and high. McCrohan Crow laws could be applied to them as well. So having a higher socioeconomic status and a higher level of education did not necessarily protect them everywhere in Texas from these horrible abuses that working class people routinely suffered. So all of these things they were aware of and they wrote stories reporting on it.

Speaker Very briefly, describe.

Speaker The creation of electronic medical records recorded on.

Speaker Laconica was founded by Nicasio Reavie and because of his background and his awareness of what was going on, he was inspired to use his skill set and his education. He was self-taught, by the way, to use that to raise that awareness and consciousness when we die. That was part of that process and she was welcomed by her father. Her father was egalitarian in terms of women's rights. He believed that women had a right to participate in the economy. He believed that women had a right to have a political voice. To give you an example. His wife managed some of their financial dealings. They had a cigar company and she was the manager. So in addition to the newspapers, they also dealt with real estate. And so definitely he was never a anticapitalist. He was what we would call petite bourgeoisie, meaning a small businessman. But he was willing to criticize the more abusive, exploitative elements of capitalism. And so were many progressives of the time period in terms of women. Again, he was very proud of that, proud of all of her knowledge, all of her education and her daring. And he supported her efforts, both as a journalist and also as a member of La Cruz. Blanca, a medical brigade that was part of the Mexican Revolution. And it was very dangerous. And at no point in time did he tell her not to participate in that. The daughter, the other daughter, Elvira IDOT, was also part of La Chronicle's business operation.

Speaker They all did it, yes, what issues did perpetrators journalism focus on?

Speaker A variety of issues, but one of the most important issues would be education. As somebody who had trained as a school teacher and had seen firsthand what it was like for Spanish speaking children in Texas schools. She understood that it was absolutely critical for people like her to find a solution. And that solution came in the form of the escalator system. So she was one of the people that used her voice in the newspapers to encourage ethnic Mexican men and women to raise funds in order to recruit Spanish speaking teachers from Mexican callejas Mexican universities that train teachers at the time and literally bring people from Mexico City, Saltillo, Monterrey to come work in Texas with ethnic Mexican children and to teach them in Spanish or bilingual, but definitely to provide for the school children an opportunity to advance by addressing them in the Spanish language. So that was key. She furthermore argued that in addition to facilitating the educational process by teaching in Spanish or bilingual, it was important to teach the children about their heritage that children needed to understand where their ancestors came from. They needed to know the history of Mexico, the history of the US Mexico border, and it needed to be a history that presented a more balanced understanding of what had happened in the past, not a history that they were learning in the Anglo American control school system that taught them Mexicans were the bad guys and Davy Crockett, another Anglo Americans, were the good guys. That on a psychological level, for their own good, for their own personal and communal development, they needed to understand the value of speaking Spanish and the value of understanding their history.

Speaker This thing you. Yeah, I think it's from the.

Speaker It's like somebody is, oh, having a dance with me.

Speaker Thanks, Larry.

Speaker Yeah, how are we doing on time? Pretty good. I know. OK. All right. I'm trying to in my head, trying to balance, like, how much information and then went to cut it. So much to share.

Speaker Should we continue with this situation? Let's take a minute break.

Speaker OK, if this most goes away.

Speaker All right, Ed, were there any areas where you wanted more or if if we have time, I might go, OK, we'll circle back.

Speaker OK, you might not.

Speaker OK, now you've been reading, you know how they're really going at it.

Speaker You know, I was so focused on this, I hadn't even noticed that.

Speaker Yeah, we had to be with you, too. Yeah.

Speaker It looks, though it sounds in addition to the there is so much what you're saying there is. So I'm glad I had coffee today.

Speaker That's good. How much of this history do you know?

Speaker It's going to be a long talk about it a lot. Or if you've heard a little bit of ideas. I was just wondering on the House floor even of this is the kind of stuff they put up with me.

Speaker Any luck figuring out where they are coming from? He thinks of our store.

Speaker There's people in there, I think, that were playing music, so you just want to in the. Told us all day, we're fine, thank you. We're so sorry. I think you saw that. There you go, OK.

Speaker All right.

Speaker Could you in just one sentence kind of list for me, the kinds of topics that would be tighter wrote about in her in her reporting, she wrote about women's rights, education, lynchings, working to end high mccrone Jim Crow.

Speaker And she wrote about lifting people up, uplifting people, the hand to the center values.

Speaker I haven't gotten into the heart of this and yes, I'm sorry.

Speaker I'm sorry. OK, I need to focus.

Speaker All right. OK.

Speaker She occasionally wrote, using a pseudonym or some pseudonyms were pseudonyms. And why not use her real name?

Speaker The one I recall in terms of pseudonyms would be Abednego Avey and then the word [Unrecognized]. She used the pseudonym. I'm imagining that part of the reason she would use pseudonyms would be in order to not be criticized for participating and perhaps what was considered to be on leading unladylike critiques of the socioeconomic structure, the political culture in Texas at the time that could have been it.

Speaker And it's interesting because her brothers did not use other names. They signed their names, Clemente, that had to be that Nicotero that her father. But it's difficult to find her name attached to an article.

Speaker And did the Blackbird say it is a oh abinader, that means Blackbird.

Speaker What do you think she chose?

Speaker I can only theorize that it could have been perhaps because she was a brown skinned person. And at one point I read somewhere that some people would call her Negro, but not in not not in a derogatory way, but sort of as a nickname within Mexican culture, Mexican society. Sometimes people are called Wedell, which means light skinned person or modern or Negro Negro. And it doesn't seem to carry the same meanings. That's a word like that would carry in the United States, though, of course, nowadays it is controversial to call people Negro or Negro. But these are all theories of mine because I actually don't have access to a diary from her.

Speaker What was Micronesians motto and.

Speaker I don't think you mentioned that it was in Spanish language. Yes. Were there other Spanish language newspapers operating in Texas at the time during the. In other words, how unique was it for the community?

Speaker There were many Spanish language newspapers in Texas and throughout the American Southwest, they were actually quite common. And during the Mexican Revolution, even more newspapers started to operate within the border area. Many of them reported on civil and human rights issues in the United States. And in addition, they were reporting on the Mexican Revolution.

Speaker And what was special about it was it's not the motto of like Romneycare was that they were there to work for the progress, the advancement of La Raza and the Mexican people. They wanted to uplift them. They wanted to educate them, and they wanted to provide for their material progress.

Speaker Can you move on to the Mexican Congress?

Speaker What was it would have led to it, why was it important the first Mexican Congress congresswoman mechanist that took place in Laredo, Texas, in September of 1911, and it lasted several days and it was basically a human and civil rights Congress that attracted a transnational audience.

Speaker There were leaders from the United States and Mexico who were supporters of La Raza and wanted an end to the discrimination and to the lynchings, the event that triggered the primmer Congress. So there was actually two things. One was the lynching of a young man in Texas who had been accused of murdering an Anglo Texan woman. But before he could even get to that trial, he was murdered by a lynch mob. And the second element that inspired Heilprin congressional Mexican is that was actually the work of Clemente, that hobbit's brother who had done an exposé on segregation in Texas schools, had exposed what ethnic Mexican schoolchildren were going through in various counties across Texas. And so the needs were great. And every day they read stories about some violence that was committed against ethnic Mexican people. And like most communities, they saw education as the way up, the way to a better life, the way out of poverty. But if the schoolchildren were not getting a quality education and in fact, if they were being brutalized in a system that considered them to be inferior people, then that was defeating the whole purpose of going to school to begin with. So it was absolutely critical that these issues be addressed in some organized format and in Congress. Or so the first Mexican Congress provided that forum. It was clear because one of the most significant roles that Hobeika had in terms of the first Mexican as Congress was to publicize it through her newspaper and very importantly, to invite ethnic Mexican women to participate at a time when many Mexican American and Mexican immigrant women would have found it challenging to step into a public role and to attend a Congress, any kind of organized activity that would take them beyond their homes, beyond their church communities. At such time, it was absolutely critical that somebody like that, who was already part of that public world, would reach out to them and invite them. And that's exactly what she did. She invited her friends, but she reached out into the broader public and encouraged women to participate. And women did participate and some of them brought their children as well. They were part of the first Mexican Congress.

Speaker What were the outcomes?

Speaker Well, they created a protective society that was rather short lived, but more significant in terms of women's history was the creation of La Liga Feminity McCalister, a Mexican American feminist league that Hovey Taylor founded. She was the president of and she and other more privileged women in society were members of it. And their number one goal was to try to provide free education for Mexican-American and Mexican immigrant children in their community. And that's exactly what they did. Another part was that they provided charitable services to members of the community. They had fundraisers and they would help people with food baskets and they would help people who were illiterate with documents and the like. Later on, she would go on to help undocumented workers obtain their papers, naturalization papers. So these are things that that the organization was keen on trying to help people and.

Speaker And in Mexican-American women's history, what's the significance of.

Speaker It the very first it was it was an early voluntary association, and it's significant because it allowed more privileged women who did not have access to many of the male dominated professions to develop organizational skills, public speaking skills, to be a part of the women's liberation process. You could argue, because they were in favor of voting rights, but also the effort to dismantle SeaMicro of one system that was based on white supremacy. So these were two major challenges, challenging a racist world that was also very sexist.

Speaker And these women, through their labors within Laredo, Texas, and in other communities, because there were other organizations similar to this, they were able to be part of that public square and to present a very clear political and politicized voice for many other women who were not able to do that. So they were representing as well. They were role models.

Speaker I don't think most people most Americans know us know that in a way, the civil rights movement began that early.

Speaker And and and so I'm wondering if you could also place it in the context of just a broader.

Speaker Sure, civil rights, the work of Congresswoman McAllister and La Liga family cannister is critical if we are to understand what comes later in nineteen twenty nine, the League of United Latin American Citizens was created in Corpus Christi, Texas. Lolek is similar to the NAACP. When we think about the modern 20th century civil rights movement right away we think about the NAACP and Martin Luther King in terms of Mexican-American history. We go to Lolek, we think about Lolek and the founders of Lolek. As it turns out, two of the brothers were among the founders of Lolek Clemente. That who, in addition to being a civil rights advocate, was also a labor rights organizer. And Eduardo, that who was operating several newspapers throughout Texas. These gentlemen also had a hand in creating the Lolek code and the Lula constitution.

Speaker And if you examine these documents, a lot of ideas that emanate from the hand of the center generation, from the family and their upbringing, they are there within the founding documents of Lolek. So those ideas are present in the modern Mexican-American civil rights movement. And, of course, the Chicano Chicano movement of a few years later builds upon the work of previous activists, among them Lula and the congresswoman cannister.

Speaker Let's turn to her work during the Mexican civil tell me about her joining the Crucible and what she did.

Speaker OK, so we either joined La Cruz, Blanca, La Cruz, Blanca, the White Cross was founded by her best friend, Leonore Vargas, the Magnon, who was a good friend of the Mexican revolutionary leader, Venustiano Carranza. The current systems had replaced the mother, thus the rebel who basically toppled the regime of the dictator, Porfirio Diaz. Porfirio, the US had been in power for some 30 years, and while he is often credited for bringing economic progress and modernization to Mexico, he's also credited for bringing severe poverty to the millions of people, including working class and peasants who were dislocated, displaced from the land, their communal land holdings in an effort to privatize Mexican land and make it more attractive to foreign capital, including American foreign capital. And so the Mexican people had many reasons to rebel against this 30 year dictatorship known as the first Francisco Maduro challenged. And he began. He becomes a democratically elected president of Mexico, but he's assassinated. And then they there is a power struggle within Mexican society. Different militarized revolutionary factions are vying for power. One of the people vying for power is Venustiano Carranza, whom the family and Vegas' the Magnon strongly support and in support of this effort to bring a more Democratic Mexico into existence. These women join his army as a medical brigade, and they followed his army, the currency sistas or the constitutionalist, as they're known, all over Mexico. And they endanger themselves because they're in the middle of battles, trying to save men, bandaging up, sending them back into the battlefield, all in the name of bringing democracy to Mexico.

Speaker Did she have medical training or did he teach herself to become a nurse?

Speaker I think that these women learned on the job and there was such desperate need. The Mexican Red Cross at the time was in support of the Federalists, the people that wanted to bring the dictatorship back or some elements of the dictatorship back. So it was very difficult for Mexico, Mexico's rebels to succeed. And they didn't count on the national resources that the federal army had. So they had to create their own Red Cross, which was known as the White Cross, to distinguish itself from the national organization. And these women from the border played a very strong role. And this element of Mexican history, and it's part of US Mexico history, because, of course, the United States, through its foreign policy, had a lot to say about the Mexican revolution. And a lot of times it did not support the rebel cause. Eventually, they worked to obtain official American recognition. Venustiano Carranza is officially recognized as the legitimate leader of Mexico, but it takes some time.

Speaker So when she returns to Laredo, she starts working for another newspaper in progress. And you describe her, work with them, and specifically tell me the story of the Texas Rangers coming to shut down the paper and resisting.

Speaker So upon returning to Laredo, once her service with the White Cross had been completed, she decides to rejoin the world of journalism.

Speaker And she is very active within Progresso, which was founded by Leonor Vargas, the man known and her brother, Leopoldo Villegas, who was a leader within Laredo society. And it's also funded by Venustiano Carranza. So the newspaper is a revolutionary newspaper in favor of the current system. At one point, prior to recognizing Carranza as the official leader, the Woodrow Wilson administration had been critical of Karzai and had essentially militarized the border. And at one point, the American military landed in Veracruz to try to prevent arms from being delivered to another dictator where the ostensibly they were trying to help Carranza. Nevertheless, because Mexicans were worried about the United States taking over Mexico as it had happened in the 19th century during the US Mexico war, they were highly offended by the United States without permission from anybody in Mexico sending American troops into that Mexican port. And so both the militarization of the border and the activity along the Veracruz coast really upset many people in Mexico and along the US Mexico border. And then Progresso criticized American foreign policy. And for that, the Texas governor ordered the Texas Rangers to go to Laredo and destroy El Progreso. But when they arrived, they found habibti that standing proudly there and challenging them to knock her down, that she was not going to allow them to destroy Al Progresso and to infringe upon their First Amendment rights. So she essentially a Mexican-American, Spanish speaking, bilingual brown woman, stood up to the Texas Rangers at a time when the Texas Rangers were basically committing terrible crimes against people of color and specifically in this case, against ethnic Mexicans. So they left. They decided they were not going to do anything to her. They came back when she was not around and they destroyed the press.

Speaker Can you tell just the story without including Woodrow Wilson and the governor, and so I'm just of that that's like paint a picture for me of that scene of them showing up in her barn that way.

Speaker So don't mention the program, not the articles that are just surfacing of that day.

Speaker All right.

Speaker So the Texas Rangers were ordered to destroy in Progresso, in Laredo, Texas. When they arrived, they found covid diver standing at the door challenging them.

Speaker To basically walk in, there are over her dead body.

Speaker She was not going to stop because of the hallway. This is where we're hoping to start, OK, the film. So it's an important. Oh, I see. Oh, my. We get a little water as you get toward a few different ways. Sure. Of course. You.

Speaker Go ahead and if we get interrupted, I believe we might start again.

Speaker Let's just give it one second helicopter.

Speaker The Texas Rangers were ordered to go to Laredo and destroy their progress when they arrived, they found covid. They are standing at the door challenging them.

Speaker To go inside and destroy the press over her dead body.

Speaker OK, so you're sure?

Speaker The Texas Rangers were ordered to go to Laredo and destroy El Progreso when they arrived, they found covid. They are standing at the door challenging them to go inside over her dead body. She was not about to let them destroy all their work, she was not about to let them infringe upon their First Amendment rights.

Speaker As a free press to report about the reality suffered by ethnic Mexican people in Texas.

Speaker And when they came the next day, they left that day, they left the next day, they made sure that every day that it was not there. Then they went inside and they destroyed the press.

Speaker OK, what does she do after that happens?

Speaker Oh, after the press is just right after the press was destroyed, she and her brother, Eduardo Yeeda, set about creating a new newspaper, Spanish language newspaper known as Evolution, which was also supported by a man known in her family and heavily funded by Venustiano Carranza. It was a pro revolution newspaper program, sister newspaper, and their goal was to report upon events in Mexico and to win the sympathies of Spanish speaking people in the region in support of the revolutionary costs. So she participated in that for a while. Eventually, she marries nineteen seventy and she marries Bartolo Juarez of Laredo. They move to San Antonio, Texas by nineteen twenty one. She can no longer be as active as she used to be, but she continues to send the occasional story article to her brother Eduardo, who continues to operate evolution.

Speaker And in her, so she's not as active, but she does still do some social activism. Oh, yes. Can you describe her activism and her leadership in San Antonio?

Speaker In San Antonio? covid either participated in a number of activities. First of all, she was self-sustaining. She was a worker throughout her life. So she had paid employment at the hospital, a Robert B. Green hospital. She also advertised her services in the newspaper La Prensa and other Spanish language newspaper as a translator and as a tutor for young children. So her teaching skills continue to be utilized in various ways in terms of her voluntary work. She was very involved as a leader, even within the that Methodist Church of San Antonio, she wrote for their religious newspaper, El Araldo Christiano The Christian Herald. She wrote articles also for an Italian language newspaper. At one point she would go into the community and she would provide her translation services free of charge. She would help people who wanted to take out naturalization papers, who needed any kind of services that would require literacy, that would require translation, a very specific and important skill set that not every person enjoyed during that time period. So these were vital skills that she freely provided the side community in San Antonio.

Speaker I'm sorry, I feel like I'm forgetting something important. Oh, yeah, she established a free kindergarten here.

Speaker She probably did, but I don't have too much information on that. I was going to say that I don't know if this matters, but she basically helped to raise her nieces. Her sister passed away in childbirth after the second daughter. And so along with the elder Oveta, the grandmother, she basically raised two children. So that's part of her her family's story. She she never had children of her own, but she helped to raise the two nieces and she educated them about the plight of ethnic Mexican people and would take them to rallies, would take them to events involving the hurricane shelters, for example, to teach them about human rights, about labor rights.

Speaker And curious, did getting married have something to do with.

Speaker The decline of her career, interestingly, when she got to San Antonio, she continued to be involved in politics. In particular, she was a member of the Democratic Party and she served at one point as a precinct captain. We need to do more research in that area. But it's definitely something that tells us that she understood that it was important to be politically involved within the American system. It was important to vote. She was in favor of women's rights, to vote and to participate in the economy. And it was important to support American politicians that would take a stand against the Ku Klux Klan, for instance, against white supremacy. So all of those things were part of her project. To my understanding. Her husband did not join her in any of these activities that were part of her world in San Antonio, four to four ahead of time.

Speaker So could you summarize briefly her legacy?

Speaker Oh, my God.

Speaker I think one of the most important legacies about how we die that is that even though she was dealing with victimizing forces like white supremacy and the poverty that ethnic Mexican people suffered through. Part of her legacy is that she was trying to teach ethnic Mexican men, women and children not to be victims, to be proactive, to use their voice, to join organizations, to seek an education, to fund those escalators from money coming out of the pockets of working class people, to put those pennies together for a better future, to craft a better future for their children. And to speak their mind, even when faced with potential violence, as in the case of the Texas Rangers, when she confronted them very courageously, and I feel that that is very important because in the same way that at one point back in my early graduate years, I felt disempowered and I wanted to quit the grad program because it was difficult for me to learn about racism and sexism and all of it. At one point, thanks to my mentors, I learned that how you deal with that is not by running away, but by standing strong and using everything within your own toolkit, your skills, your knowledge, your intelligence, your resourcefulness to try to craft that better world.

Speaker The world will not improve unless all of us do our part. And if we do, it is almost guaranteed, I feel that we will create that better world. How would you summarize your greatest achievements, her greatest achievements, I feel, were of an inspirational nature.

Speaker That she stood her ground, that it was unacceptable for him to grow one grow to exist, it was unacceptable for women who have just as much talent and gifts as men to not be able to exercise so much power in a public square. It was unacceptable for school children not to obtain the same level of quality education that European American, Anglo American schoolchildren were receiving.

Speaker It was wrong for them to be denied that American dream that it was professed in the media that was part of US culture. Men, women and children of ethnic Mexican descent. She was trying to communicate, were just as worthy, just as talented.

Speaker And.

Speaker They needed to have their human and their civil rights, and she devoted her entire life to that project.

Speaker Is there anything about her that frustrates you?

Speaker What frustrates me the most about every day that is that she was humble to a fault.

Speaker She was always about helping other family members, community members, the broader La Raza community, women. And she did not, in my opinion, pay too much attention to keeping records of what she was doing. Unlike her best friend, you're not Vegas.

Speaker That she did not provide us with a memoir, for instance. Now, of course, granted Leonhard live a lot longer covid that died a young woman in middle aged. Nevertheless, there are few documents that are at our disposal. The articles are very powerful and we get a lot of information from the article. But I wish she had left behind a diary with her private thoughts.

Speaker What is the state of Latino women in journalism and activism today?

Speaker Certainly there are more Latinos that are part of that world nowadays and some of them have high profile. Nevertheless, I feel like there's still underrepresentation within the United States. And it's just something that that we need to work on to encourage more Mexican-American women, Mexican immigrant young girls to pursue journalism, to pursue these careers. There is a sense in many working class families that the children, the boys and girls need to focus on certain moneymaking careers. Business, for instance, is highly attractive. I started in business. I was attracted to business because I wanted to help my working class parents create a better world for us. They were very hardworking and I saw their sacrifices. And so love motivated my decision to go into business. But my heart was always in history. And so it took years for me to get back on the path that I was destined for and a lot of mentoring from wonderful teachers. So I feel like sometimes young people either through structural elements, the racism that continues in society or their own desire to pick careers that are going to help the community specifically or their families also. They don't always follow their passion. And I know that we have potential journalists, budding journalist out in the community, and we just have to identify them, encourage them and provide the resources. Every career requires a certain amount of resources and mentoring for the person to flourish in it. So we just have to do that.

Speaker Sorry, yes, of course. Anything else you'd like to add that you didn't get related to Baghdad or the historical context of? Yes. I think it is important to speak for what he said.

Speaker I think it is very important to understand that when we take that and actually I would include the activists in general, the men and women that have been part of civil and human rights movements in the United States, African-American, Mexican-American, other groups who have done this, they they are not anti white people. They're anti white supremacy. And white supremacy is a set of institutional structures that favors one socially constructed grouping over another. And so in our current society, sometimes when people study activism, they erroneously make assumptions about activist and they almost get to the point of calling them racist against white people or that there's some kind of reverse discrimination going on. And I think that's an error. I think that's a misreading of the excellent human and civil rights work that has made our society more diverse and more tolerant over time.

Speaker And there is a danger of going back in time if we allow that to not be called on, to not be clarified. And we explained that it's not white people that are being challenged through these human and civil rights efforts, but it's white supremacy as a system.

Gabriela González
Interview Date:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
"Gabriela González, Unladylike2020: The Changemakers." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 13 Oct. 2019,
(2019, October 13). Gabriela González, Unladylike2020: The Changemakers. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET).
"Gabriela González, Unladylike2020: The Changemakers." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). October 13, 2019. Accessed January 16, 2022


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